It was exactly twenty years ago. We were five years old, Jill. I remember how our parents celebrated our birthdays with so much love and planted kisses all over our faces – how you used to fake tears just to have more chocolates than me left me amazed; it made me hate you for seconds but love you a mile after your wide smile lit up my smirk. We were like the perfect twins from different families – or maybe that was what our parents thought since we were born the same day. You loved coming around to spend weekends with my family and I, and we always had a reason to hold hands laughing over the oversized pants of a cartoon character or crying deeply when a young child in the movie wept about troubles I do not know now. No, I did not cry; I was like the man in small pants pulling back your long hair albeit gently and attempting soothing cheer-you-up words whenever you had reason to be dismayed. Age five was one year I can never forget in a hurry. More to the chocolates even, was your love for music – you had me learn by rote, the whole songs used in SOUND OF MUSIC. There was something about you that transcended your purty face, lissom form, and grey eyes; you were the wunderkind I grew to envy.
Jilly Jean, as you had called yourself when we advanced into grade seven. You were only ten years old but almost knew more than our math teacher. I recall how you solved every word problem in our Math texts and sustained that blimp smile when you deliberately missed one but got applauded by the inundated math teacher for that particular one. You were like the genius while I was a fighter of the bananas of our class – but what did you care? I was still your favourite – you may have found me clownish those years of throwing repartees beyond my small brains, and laughing so hard at my stutters. It was hurtful to have been born a dime a dozen, but I learnt to be your number one admirer, supporter, and family during secondary school.
Our first kiss; I remember we were concluding WAEC. If I did the math correctly, we were sixteen years. You remained slim and graceful, you were few inches taller than me – I cannot forget how you kept singing that song in the top floor. I still craze at how you fought Daniella for calling me a tout – I could not separate you from brandishing her cheeks with future-resetting slaps clairvoyants never envisaged. We got home that very day but my eyes watched you weep at what you called “undeserved boil over”. All my attempts to make you stop the tears did not work until I inadvertently sat on the tuffet very close to your revealing thighs, with my right palm carelessly chilling on the spotless tan skin your thigh boasted of. Your sobbing reduced, and your maintained gaze at my hand sent me the cues that I was becoming well-intentioned. The difficulty in removing my palm had me a bit restive, and my act of contrition afterwards threw you into a barrel of laughs. “Jack, what are you afraid of?” You had this gutsy and you clearly had matured in thoughts and motives than my feeble and fearful innocuous proclivities. Those words had challenged me but the whole tension when our faces sought a fusion had my throat dry and heartbeat ceded to my stomach. We kissed that evening. Our tongues became yea-sayers to what our souls whispered but maybe we became randy and fleshy as I beckoned with no staid manners that you take off your civvies so I could grope at your breasts, and taste of your papilla. Our first kiss could have been our first diddle as I strayed into the lonely paths of your body and tickled my thoughts at your willing demons; but you did not budge, you showed you were wiser.
August 2014, I remember the month; you had squeezed a keepsake into my hands. I asked you if that were supposed to serve as a sop as I never since graduation, kissed those thin lips any longer. I wondered why I was supposed to keep your pink lingerie as a reminder of you as you readied for a trip to Ukraine to pursue your career in the medical field. But you knew, Jill. You knew that you were going to tip me a million times embarking on such sojourn. Why were you selfish to have chosen to unite your soul with ghosts on that flight? Now my world remains bleached dust of my red tears, I have become an object of do overs from life’s twist; I have graduated from quad to overindulgence in heavy grog till I behold a view of you giving me those broad smiles and singing the right euphony whilst in the radiance of Heaven. I hope I forgive you for taking the solo route to the land of no return, even as I seethe the flesh of a bullock to celebrate your entrance into the sinless nation smelling of goodness and majesty.
I will write to you often. Amidst my crapulence is still a bloke with rue at your departure, and deep love for you. Weep not from high up there that I write poems and leave them at your cenotaph as occupation; I have come to understand that the strong wine will be a pang till I am gone in a trice to meet you at the other side. Until then, Jill, I will be a habitué of this carved headstone no matter how frail my legs become; this is my article of faith till I am a part of this world no more.